The critical role of cloud–infrared radiation feedback in tropical cyclone development

James H. Ruppert, Allison A. Wing, Xiaodong Tang, Erika L. Duran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The tall clouds that comprise tropical storms, hurricanes, and typhoons—or more generally, tropical cyclones (TCs)—are highly effective at trapping the infrared radiation welling up from the surface. This cloud–infrared radiation feedback, referred to as the “cloud greenhouse effect,” locally warms the lower–middle troposphere relative to a TC’s surroundings through all stages of its life cycle. Here, we show that this effect is essential to promoting and accelerating TC development in the context of two archetypal storms—Super Typhoon Haiyan (2013) and Hurricane Maria (2017). Namely, this feedback strengthens the thermally direct transverse circulation of the developing storm, in turn both promoting saturation within its core and accelerating the spin-up of its surface tangential circulation through angular momentum convergence. This feedback therefore shortens the storm’s gestation period prior to its rapid intensification into a strong hurricane or typhoon. Further research into this subject holds the potential for key progress in TC prediction, which remains a critical societal challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27884-27892
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 10 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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